Mini Reviews #3: Netgalley Edition

Posted May 20, 2015 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 0 Comments

23368733Title: Me and Mr J
Author: Rachel McIntyre
Publisher: Egmont
Publication Date: March 5th 2015
Source: Free review copy from publisher
SummaryFifteen-year-old Lara finds her soulmate. There’s just one problem – he’s her teacher.
Lara’s life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.
And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot reciprocate her feelings … can he?

Review: I’m a big fan of UKYA and diary-format novels and so was really intrigued by McIntyre’s debut YA.

The format itself was engaging however at times heightened Lara’s immaturity and made her feel younger than her age. On the flip side of that however McIntyre is able to show Lara’s reactions to her home life and bullying more vividly and this definitely heightens sympathy for Lara.

One of the things that did affect my reading of the book was by showing how vulnerable Lara was and what she was going through, the relationship with Mr Jagger felt even worse as he had identified she was struggling. While the book does present their relationship as him starting off with good intentions of helping the lines that blur and the way the plot develops made me feel uncomfortable at times. McIntyre constantly presents new evidence that keeps you analysing what actually is going on and what the intentions are.

What I felt McIntyre really excelled with was the depiction of bullying and how horrible being fifteen can be.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Me and Mr J and would read more from Rachel McIntyre in the future.

 I received a free ARC from Egmont  for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book.

19547856Title: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: PRH Children’s
Publication Date:
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author:

Goodreads DescriptionSixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Review: I heard a lot of hype from US  and UK bloggers about this title and it sounded great so I had to request it. I actually ended up reading it in almost one evening.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a fantastically heartfelt, funny, sad and real read. As a side note, I think  YA is becoming one of the more diverse ‘sections’ of literature and while we still need more diverse books, it’s great to see books with gay and/or diverse protagonists taking more prominence than historically.

Simon is a fantastic narrator and so realistic and relatable. He’s not agonising over his sexuality but he’s not exactly ready to come out at the start either – however he’s falling for a boy in his school he doesn’t know the identity of through email. It’s sweet and interesting to see how you really connect with someone without knowing what they look like. Albertalli keeps you guessing about who Blue is and while I was beginning to suspect the person, I liked that I didn’t know straight away.

The conflict in the story comes from Martin, a classmate who discovers Simon’s emails and blackmails him so he can be set up with Simon’s friend Abby.  It’s a cowardly, nasty thing and yet sadly believable. However, that doesn’t mean this is a particularly ‘angsty’ book, which I liked.

I really enjoyed this book and thought Simon was a great narrator and the story very engaging. YA fans and those who love contemporary YA will find a lot to enjoy this book.

 I received a free e-copy from PRH Children’s via Netgalley  for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book.

17670709Title: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date:
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Throne of Glass, Heir of Fire, A Court of Thorns and Roses

Goodreads DescriptionCelaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the King of Adarlan’s deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies’ blood – but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, put those she loves at risk.

Torn between her two protectors – a captain and a prince – and battling a dark force far greater than the king, Celaena must decide what she will fight for: her liberty, her heart or the fate of a kingdom…

Review: This is one of those books that shamefully has sat on my kindle for far too long. I started it when I first received it but it wasn’t quite working for me at that time so I shelved it for a while and decided to return to it earlier this year, especially with everyone talking about Maas’ latest novel A Court of Thorns and Roses and just how behind I was with the Thrones of Glass series anyway.  I’m very pleased I did return to it as I really enjoyed it.

Maas writes her characters really well and the development of Celaena was well done as she tries to negotiate what it has meant to survive the tournament and become the King’s Champion. The impact of that upon her relationships was very well handled too as the stark reality of what her role is meant to be is made clear to Chaol and Dorian. The way in which Celaena is able to bypass murder and yet still bear the stigma of the crime to those she cares about was very interesting.

The role of magic took on a more prominent role in this book and I definitely got a better sense of the world building and world Maas has created. I think the politics is well played out and there were some twists and turns that should take the series in a very compelling direction.

Now I just need to get up to date and read Crown of Midnight as soon as possible!

 I received a free e-copy from Bloomsbury via Netgalley  for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book.

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